Father figure Mazzarri out to unlock Niang's potential
Walter Mazzarri is confident he can bring the best out of January signing M'Baye Niang and hopes the Frenchman can stay at Vicarage Road beyond his loan spell.
Niang starred in Watford's 2-1 victory over 10-man Burnley on Saturday, producing an assist and scoring on his home debut to steer the Hornets to back-to-back Premier League wins for the first time since September.
The 22-year-old joined the club from Serie A giants AC Milan after falling out with manager Vincenzo Montella and despite showing promise in the past, his attitude had been questioned. But Mazzarri is confident Niang can fulfil his potential under his stewardship.
"I treat him as if he were my son," the Watford boss said.
"Speaking with him every day, of course. I ask him for suggestions and I think he listens to me as well. A player with his qualities, if he has made mistakes in the past the important thing is that he doesn't do it anymore and he keeps following my suggestions.
"Niang did very well against Arsenal, also because he is a player that did not play a lot with Milan this season. But he still needs to get the perfect condition I want.
"I'm (also) happy with the midfield, especially in the first half. Tom Cleverley and Etienne Capoue, they managed to hold the midfield - but I don't like to talk about single players, I want to talk about the full team in general."
Watford lie 10th in the Premier League and will look to maintain that position, having finished 13th in the previous campaign. Mazzarri, however, is not focused on his side's league position and wants to improve the mentality of his players.
"I don't like looking too much at the table," the Italian added.
"But the only time I look at the table is because it's important to reach our objective of staying in the Premier League. I look at the performance and I want my team to grow with the performance, the mentality and the way of playing."
Burnley, on the other hand, suffered another away defeat - their 10th of the season - and were dealt an early blow by Jeff Hendrick's dismissal.
But Clarets manager Sean Dyche was encouraged by their second-half display and is not concerned about their form on the road.
"To come and deliver a second half like that is tremendous and it shows a lot about the character, the stomach and belief of the team to go and be effective," he said.
"And no baggage for this away thing. We're in the Premier League. It's not easy to be rolling up and getting points away from home. That's the challenge.
"We haven't won a game - so what?"